Steel Wheels have made one hell of an impact on the indie and alt-country scene. Their new single Alexander – coupled with its incredible video – is a triumph.
Steel Wheels is an anachronistic project in the age of isolation and the bedroom producer: an oversized outfit that pumps out rock with an unmistakable country tinge. There’s no doubt it goes against the grain — but it’s all the better for it. Alexander is their latest and boldest artistic statement.
Though Steel Wheels formed only last year, the Melbourne band has a chiselled sound that hints at years of being honed on the road. And when this seven-piece machine roars into life in Alexander, it produces elemental melodies that simply can’t be denied.
The throaty voice of Mika Kohlman’s baritone sax is the entrée to Alexander, which is doubled by the piano of Rory Joy to introduce listeners to the track’s most powerful motif. Underneath lies the hard-hitting groove from guitarists Tori Styles and Matthew Verinder, bassist Nikki Ariss, and drummer Jake Farrugia— as if the rhythm section from The War On Drugs decided to relax their tempo and turn up the swagger.
It creates the perfect platform for Scarlett Maloney’s vocal delivery. Powerful, yet effortlessly sitting atop the mix, it inhabits a zone all of its own. Even when the band launches into the chorus, the message of Alexander (as the band says, “It’s a pledge of support, an invitation of hope for the future, a celebration of love”) loses none of its clarity.
Its accompanying video — shot in Brunswick Ballroom and directed by the aforementioned Tori Styles — is a gauzy, single-shot love letter to ’70s country. Weaving between each member of the ensemble, it’s just as captivating and revelatory as the song.
Simply put, Alexander is an anthem. A stirring salvo dedicated to reemergence: a message that we all need to hear right now.